Tum balalayka

[Play, balalaika *]

[See lecture: Jewish Folklore?]

Shteyt a bokher un er trakht,A young lad stands and thinks,
Trakht un trakht a gantse nakht,He thinks the whole night long,
 Vemen tsu nemen un nit farshemen?Whom to take and not to shame?
 Vemen tsu nemen un nit farshemen?Whom to take and not to shame?
           Tum balalayke ...           Tum balalayke ...
 Meydl, meydl, ikh vil bay dir fregn:Young lass, I wish to ask you:
 Vos ken vaksn, vaksn on regn?What can grow without rain?
 Vos ken brenen un nit oyfhern?What can burn and not be consumed?
 Vos ken beynkn, venen on trern?What can yearn, cry without tears?
           Tum balalayke ...           Tum balalayke ...
 Narishe bokher, vos darfstu fregn:Foolish boy, why do you ask?
 A shteyn ken vaksn, vaksn on regn,A stone can grow without rain,
 A lib ken brenen un nit oyfhern,A love can burn without being consumed,
 A harts ken beynkn, veynen on trern.A heart can yearn, cry without tears.
           Tum balalayke ...          Tum balalayke ... 


Alternate versions include different questions and answers. Here is a version recorded by Arkady Gendler, Bessarabian folksinger, on his disk "My Hometown Soroke":


Vos far a milner hot nisht keyn mil?What kind of miller has no mill?
Vos far a lefl hot nisht keyn shtil?What kind of spoon has no handle?
Vos far a meylekh hot nisht keyn land?What kind of king has no land?
Vos far a yam hot nisht keyn zam?What kind of sea has no shore?
          Tum balalayke ...          Tum balalayke ...
A geshtorbener milner hot nisht keyn mil,A dead miller has no mill,
A tsebrokhener lefl hot nisht keyn shtil,A broken spoon has no handle,
A meylekh fun kortn hot nisht keyn land,A king of cards has no land,
A yam fun trern hot nisht keyn zam.A sea of tears has no shore.
          Tum balalayke ...          Tum balalayke ...